I had Friday off, so a family trip to Gatineau Park was organized. I haven't run there at all this year, unlike last year, when I went fairly often. Time and convenience have been the principal factors. The fact that I have barely run hasn't helped.
The goal was to hike Wolf Trail, my favorite trail in in the Gatineaus. At 8.5km, and with a fair bit of climbing, it promised to be challenging for the kids. They've been very good at the local trails so far, though. They've also been enthusiastic about walking "in the forest". They also loved visiting Champlain lookout last summer, and the prospect of a lookout or two was an ace up my sleeve.
We started out from the parking lot around noon. We opted to do the trail counterclockwise, which in retrospect might not have been the best decision. In that direction, the climbs are steep and tough, while the descent is more gradual.
Both paths follow small streams, and we took advantage of one crossing to take our first break. The jujubes came out, and some frogs were spotted. The climbs got tougher, but soon we found our first lookout, and a well needed break. To our left was the green expanse of the park. In front of us was a valley, with a forested hill on the far side. To our left, we could just make out the west end of Ottawa. We spotted a pair of turkey vultures circling over the park. After a drink, some trail mix, and some more jujubes, our spirits were raised.
As we got closer to the ridge, some more, minor lookouts came and went. Then we crossed ridge road, and I promised that the best lookout was "just ahead". Of course, I'd only ever run the trail from the opposite direction, and it seems the lookout was about a kilometer off from where I thought it was. It was worth the wait, though. The lookout, right on the ridge of the Gatineau hills, faces the Ottawa river valley. Farms seem to come right up to your feet, and the river ribbons its way from right to left. With the binoculars, we could make out the hockey arena in Ottawa, and a water tower that we assumed was in Carleton Place (which was maybe 45km away). We finished our snacks, took turns with the binoculars, and marvelled at the cows and cars that were smaller than the ants that ran around us.
The general consensus was that the lookout was well worth the work to get to it.
The kids faded a bit on the walk back, but it was a shorter route and, as already mentioned, consisted of a gentle(r) downhill. Still, I took the time to look, listen and smell on the way back, to soak it all in. I'm sure I'll be thinking of this hike throughout the winter.
Someone asked me a month or two back where in the world I would most like to be. Most people are quick to give an answer like Europe, or the Caribbean, but my answer was Wolf Trail. I'm glad I got to go this year. Hopefully next year, I'll go back again.